ACSF advances multidisciplinary research and cultivates
innovative collaborations within and beyond Cornell
to foster a sustainable future for all.
The Atkinson Center was created in 2008 by the Office of the Provost, following a multiyear, cross-campus dialogue on energy and sustainability (see the report from the 2006 Task Force on Sustainability in the Age of Development). In a time of widespread retrenchment in higher education, sustainability is one of the few areas of real growth. The reason is simple: the world faces serious challenges for which traditional scientific and scholarly excellence is necessary but not sufficient. Problems related to energy, the environment, and economic development are interdependent and interconnected, transcending individual disciplines. The science and engineering needed to develop clean technologies cannot be separated from the ecological study of Earth's integrated human and natural systems or from the social science of human behavior and well-being.
Progress in sustainability research requires not only new ways of thinking and organizing, but also must integrate researchers with practitioners. ACSF therefore supports problem-oriented research and external partnerships to achieve important discoveries with tangible, real-world impact. We catalyze new intellectual collisions that spark discovery and real progress for humanity. See our Annual Reports for summaries of our accomplishments.
The ACSF Faculty Fellows program is intended to recognize and promote the work of researchers across many sustainability disciplines at Cornell who are actively engaged with the Center. So far, the group includes 320 researchers from 11 Cornell colleges/schools and 66 departments.
The Atkinson Center's research programs and activities are established in two major ways:
- Direct stimulation from the Center and Cornell leadership when we observe a confluence of strengths and external opportunities, such as impending RFPs, potential partnerships, and faculty hiring and retention.
- Internal competition for seed funding, which leads to workshops that explore challenges and priorities or to new research collaborations.
Atkinson Center Programs
- Academic Venture Fund (AVF): seeds workshops and research collaborations across campus
- Rapid Response Fund (RRF): supports exciting new discoveries, ideas, or time-sensitive opportunities
- Topical Lunches: a grassroots forum to explore potential collaborations on sustainability topics
- Strategic Faculty Hiring in Sustainability: ACSF facilitates strategic faculty hiring across the three thematic areas: energy, environment, and economic development
- CARE-Cornell Partnership: links Cornell researchers with CARE professionals with the Impact through Innovation Fund (IIF) to advance sustainable food systems
- The Nature Conservancy-Cornell Partnership: The Nature Conservancy has established a NatureNet Science Fellows Program, in partnership with Cornell and five other leading universities, to create a reservoir of interdisciplinary science talent that will carry out the new work of conservation.
- Sustainability Proposal Support: timely assistance for new Cornell teams proposing sustainability research programs in response to calls for proposals
- Graduate Student Funding: the Atkinson Center recently announced three new programs to provide funding to graduate students:
- Summer Institute and Fellowships (formerly the Agrarian and Rural Transformation Fellowship Program)
- Sustainable Biodiversity Fund (SBF)
- Cross-Scale Biogeochemistry and Climate Small Grants Program (CSBC)
- Policy Briefing Series: designed for media, legislators, and legislative and agency staff, these briefings in Washington, D.C., feature faculty experts who provide research-based information and policy analysis